Wildlife experts test pelican found on Pascagoula beach for oil - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Wildlife experts test pelican found on Pascagoula beach for oil


By Patrice Clark – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) – Sunday afternoon, Pascagoula beach goers had their eyes on a brown pelican standing in the sand. James Cunningham and Lindsey Cowan were the first two to spot the bird. They feared oil was on it and called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for help.

"It kind of upsets me to see an animal suffer like that. It should have to happen. It is none of their fault and they can't clean themselves," Cunningham said.

When the wildlife rescue team arrived they mapped out a safety plan, suited up, and went in to catch the distressed pelican. 

"We fed it some fish, kind of distracted it, and basically tried to sneak in behind it and net it," wildlife team member Justin Hughes said. 

 The pelican is being transported to rehabilitation center in Alabama. The bird will then be cleaned and tested for crude oil contamination. 

"It is not the first pelican we have seen. They had one over here at Singing River Island; we caught a white pelican about a week ago. I am not sure if they had any oil on it." 

Jackson County emergency officials say no oil has been conformed in Pascagoula. But Hughes says there's a good chance the pelican has oil on it. 

"Some of them, they believe, may be riding in on barges at times and hopping off as soon as they get close to shore. So, it's possible that's how the pelican may have gotten here," Hughes said. "It looked like it had some oiling on it. They won't know later, until they do some testing, I am sure. But it does look like it has a little oiling on it.  

The Fish and Wildlife team said the test results should be ready in a few weeks.

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